07/09/2012 12:09 EDT | Updated 09/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Media Bites: A Journalist Moving to Cuba? Not Without a Rant from Uncle Ezra


For all his gauche bombast on the matter, I'm wondering if Sun TV's Ezra Levant may be on to something with his decision to pillory departing Globe and Mail web editor Stephen Wicary over his recent decision to relocate his family to Cuban People's Glorious Commie Police State.

The gist: Wicary's wife got hired to head CARE Canada's Cuban office, a charity group that, according to its website, is involved with helping improve the "economic development" of the island nation. Husband in tow, a move was arranged, Ezra somehow learned, and on Friday Sun viewers were given a lecture featuring that unique tone of righteousness the great man reserves for only his most obscure of targets.

"Who the hell would go live in Cuba?" Ezra demanded. Certainly not himself! He likes democracy and freedom and making fun of socialism on television, all of which are big no-no's in Castro's utopia. Ego, people who are willing to go must be about as un-Ezra-like as you can get, which, needless to say, does not get you a lot of good points in his book.

Jonathan Kay at the Post has been the only mainstream pundit willing to devote column space to this Wicary-Levant brouhaha, a fact which suits Ezra just fine, since a key component of his whole thesis is that the "Media Party" -- his pet term for the "100 or so" gang of "urban hispters" who control the Canadian press -- are deliberately suppressing discussion of this critical story.

Kay, for his part, raised a stink about the degree to which Ezra was doing some deliberate suppression of his own -- namely about the nature of Mrs. Wicary's work -- in favour of portraying the ex-journo as a sort of Marxist pilgrim. Besides, journalists can have a lot of fun living under the erratic rule of an eccentric octogenarian despot! I'd happily move to Cuba myself, says Jon, "not because I'm 'fine with how the Castro brothers run the joint,' but because I'm pretty sure I could get a book out of it."

Ezra has been back on the TV since, of course, deepening his critique of both Wicary and wife -- the latter as a regime-supporting stooge, the former a moral hypocrite who vigorously chronicled democratic abuses in this country only to move to one with much worse symptoms. And the Media Party is obviously a real thing, he says. Like, it's a literal party.

While Ezra is in a predictable hurry to view all this as yet one more epic clash of left-versus-right, in reality the strongest media biases at play here are probably more institutional than ideological.

The idea that Levant is a hysterical attention whore on a ramshackle network who can't get anything right --including the weather, in the words of Wicary -- is clearly a sentiment strong enough to lure mainstream Canadian pundits of all stripes, left right or centre, into its smug gravitational pull.

The medium is the message, as ol' what's-his-face once put it, and all the tidy, well-groomed folks at the various Stars and Globes and Posts of the world have a lot to gain from ostentatiously proclaiming (or tweeting) that Ezra's blustery shenanigans on his station of low-cut necklines have no place in their polite universe of rolodexes and empowering female haircuts.

At the same time, Levant's fundamental question -- how a self-respecting journalist from a free society can do "the mental gymnastics" required to make peace with a comfortable life in a decidedly unfree society, complete with government-collaborating spouse -- remains without a persuasive answer.

I'd be nice to hear one.


If there's one thing the press hates more than Ezra Levant, it's being wrong about something. And since they were super-mega-wrong in predicting that the Prime Minister planned to stage a big summer cabinet shuffle, the resulting grief has been palatable.

Viewing the shuffle-skip as nothing less than Harper's self-coronation as "Napoleon I, Emperor of the Canadians", it's safe to say Dan Gardner at the Ottawa Citizenis somewhere in the shock/anger stage.

"For years, we've watched centralization get worse and thought, 'this is it. It can't get any worse," he says. But then it did! To the barricades! (That's a Napoleon thing, right?)

Jon Ivitson at the Post, meanwhile, is firmly in stage denial. Sure, writes Jon, Harper may say he's not gonna shuffle, but "what if one senior minister decides he doesn't fancy the prospect of a demotion but quite likes the idea of filling his boots on Bay Street?" Or, like, what if one gets promoted to be a judge or something? Or what if two of their planes crash into each other and the debris lands on a third? Then we'd have to have a cabinet shuffle and all you nay-sayers would look like idiots.

Only Kelly McParland seems to be comfortable in something resembling stage acceptance.

Hey guys, he says, maybe "it's possible Stephen Harper doesn't pay as much attention to the sound bites and games-playing that constitutes much of Ottawa's daily routine as do other members of his caucus." Maybe he's just too busy governing the country and stuff.

And maybe, just maybe, before the press devotes weeks of speculative gossip to something the PM is supposedly gonna do, they should consider asking him if he's actually gonna do it first.

Bold, I know.